Cruciferous vegetables are a family of vegetables that are named for their cross-shaped (crucifer) flower petals. Examples of these vegetables are broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnip and radish.
Recently, cruciferous vegetables, rather than vegetables as a group, have drawn a great deal of attention in cancer research because of their potential protective properties. This protection against certain cancers is due to the potent antioxidants they contain (particularly beta carotene and the compound sulforaphane). Cruciferous vegetables also contain a kind of phytochemical known as isothiocyanates, which stimulate our bodies, to break down potential cancer causing agents, known as carcinogens. Cruciferous vegetables are also high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. It’s best to eat these veggies raw or only lightly steamed to retain the phytochemicals that make cruciferous vegetables special in terms of health.
The taste of cruciferous vegetables is frequently described as having a slight bitter taste that research has linked to the phytonutrients. Recent research has also linked the bitter taste in cruciferous vegetables with their high calcium content. This bitter taste may be undesirable to some so a recommendation is to blend cruciferous vegetables with differently flavored foods, such as sweet or salty, so that the cruciferous vegetables retain some of their natural and noticeable bitterness but within a blended-flavor context that makes the dish delicious!
Eat Well, Halifax